By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Graffiti (from the New York City tradition) only started to appear in Rio in a big way during the late Nineties, but it did not take long for the city earn a reputation as one of the most tolerant of the work. Around this time a group of friends operating a ‘zine’ focused on drawing took to the streets, and in so doing set the foundation for the rapidly evolving street art movement in Rio.

BR and Toz of Fleshbeck Crew, Graffiti, Street Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
BR and Toz of Fleshbeck Crew, photo by Fleshbeck Crew.

Fleshbeck Crew, composed of artists BR, Toz, Pia’, SWK, Rod, and Krrank, pioneered the graffiti movement in Rio, and still remain some of the most respected figures in the scene.

Working together on the Fleshbeck Zine, the crew took shape honing their skills in sketchbooks before transforming the streets. “At that time we were very influenced by images coming out of the [U.S.].  Even before hip-hop we were tuned into the representation of urban life from films like ‘The Warriors’.”

The term ‘crew’ refers to a collection of graffiti writers that work together, usually a collection of friends and like-minded artists that are intent on furthering their art with the support of a close-knit community. Fleshbeck Crew was one of the original groups working in Rio.

They, along with a few others (e.g., Nação Crew), still work as a team to produce some of the city’s most exciting work in Rio. The group’s ability to remain cohesive over a span of time that has seen graffiti change from vandalism to collected art is a testament to the shared vision of the founding members.

Pia, Fleshbeck Crew, Street Art, Graffiti, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
One of Pia's memorable walls in Leblon, photo by Fleshbeck Crew.

“Graffiti became hip, everyone was doing it,” states a smiling BR, one of the founding members of Rio’s Fleshbeck Crew. “But in the Nineties there was nothing, after ‘Celacanto Provoca Maremoto’ and Profeta Gentileza, there was mainly pichação. Our work introduced the city to this type of graffiti and we are still obsessed with the potential. That’s why we are still around, this isn’t a fad for us, it’s our passion.”

The Crew still works on projects as a team, but has also found success in individual projects. Many of the founding members (BR, Toz) have had exhibitions in Rio’s Galeria Movimento  and Krrank has gained international attention for his photo and video records of graffiti in Rio.  The crew has also participated together in key art events in Brazil, including: Fabulosas Desordens (2007) and the São Paulo Biennial (2010).

Pia’, responsible for some of the most memorable work in Rio, became obsessed with graffiti shortly after Fleshbeck premiered on the street.  He mentioned the importance of Fleshbeck, “When I first saw their work I was hooked, it changed the game in Rio.”

The street art scene, born out of the graffiti tradition, continues to change rapidly in Rio. For some it is still on a catch-up mission to its São Paulo counterpart, yet with the Carioca creativity the city is quickly evolving into one of the most vibrant street art scenes in the world.


  1. Good evening!

    I am writing to you about the work from your writers about graffiti in Rio. I was originally excited about graffiti getting more positive light in a local news, I see that your writers don’t research their work, and have created their own history about history and culture of graffiti in Rio de Janeiro. You may not be interested in accuracy, but if you are then you need better work.

    For example The Fleshbeck Crew, they are well known, and talented and paint much around the city, but they were NOT graffiti originators in Rio. They were actually a generation after graffiti’s forefathers. Many of the main graffiti artists were in fact influenced by Paulista artists, and the root of Rio graffiti was in Niteroi. There was actually graffiti in Rio in 1990, and even artists painting back in 1970.

    Also. alot of the graffiti in Rio is not in the Zona Sul, but in Zona Norte, and the artists you are writing about are more popular, but definitely not pioneers like you are saying. There are a bulk of other artists that are actually worth reporting on, that really helped develop the culture here in Rio.

    Anyways, there are many projects in Rio focusing on graffiti. We Cariocas, who love graffiti, appreciate the work you are doing, but please do a better job. Maybe have a local help out your writers to give more information.

    Thank you,


  2. Thais,

    Many thanks for your comments, your concerns are duly noted. I would only like to point out two things.

    First, all the stories I do on graffiti in Rio are done with the artists. I talk with the artists and other locals for each story and base each article on those discussions. The Fleshbeck Crew article was written in this manner, based on my discussions with members and others.

    Second, I am happy and willing to speak with artists wherever they may work. There is no intent to ignore lesser known artists or artists working outside of Zona Sul. I do my best to reach out to everyone working in the community now. In the short time since I started writing these article I have not been able to meet and write about everyone.

    These articles are not intended as a comprehensive history of graffiti in Rio, but, rather, are targeted at giving some background on what people are seeing on the street. Still, Fleshbeck Crew is regularly hailed as being one of the originators of the modern graffiti movement in Rio. Opinions may differ on this point, but the article was based on credible discussions with locals who view the crew as such.

    I am happy to further discuss these issues, feel free to get in touch.



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